There could be lots of reasons why the blank room you're currently in is your first living room. This could be your first place after college. You could be stretching your legs after years of living only in studios. Or you could even just be relishing having your very own living room after sharing one with a roommate or partner for years.
Whatever your reasons for having a pretty blank first living room doesn't matter. What matters is tackling the essentials of a living room first, and then easing into your own style and look. But what constitutes a living room "essential"? We all define our living spaces differently (part of the beauty of living in a diverse world!) but there are a few basic items/ideas that you should try to incorporate first so that you and your guests can enjoy your new space as soon as possible.
A plan for how you'd like to use it Are you going to mainly watch TV? Read books? Entertain guests? Have board game parties? It seems obvious, but many folks don't first take the time to decide how they'd actually like to use their living room. This decision will help determine furniture arrangements and décor choices.
Comfortable seating enough for you and for guests This is pretty essential, wouldn't you say? A good sofa is a great place to start. So are a couple of side chairs. But don't forget about ottomans. If you're really on a budget and/or love making things yourself, the floor cushion is a fun, casual choice.
Storage This will be determined by that use we asked you to choose above. Have a lot/will be getting a lot of books? Invest in lots of bookcases, not a media center. Want to host movie nights? Have not only a place to display your TV but also to hide DVDs and other entertainment accessories. Board games require larger storage, so keep that in mind if you ever plan on expanding your collection!
A catch all for magazines, remotes, etc. Nothing's worse than always having a messy living room and not understanding why. If you're a "kick off the shoes" kind of person (and don't have an entryway setup) consider storage (hidden or just organized) for shoes. Or if you've got a massive entertainment setup think about a way you can hide remotes but still access them easily. Always leaving your favorite home magazines lying around? Consider giving them a permanent place to live.
A good light (or two or three) No one ever has enough lights. This is almost a universal problem. If you're lucky, you've got enough natural light during the day, but unless you're keen on only using candlelight, you'll need lamps.
What feels important to you Have you been dreaming about the rug you were going to lay down in your first apartment? Or have a painting that means a lot to you that you want to hang right away to get the décor started? If there's something that's essential to you, start with that and go from there!
What else? What are your first living room essentials? Think back to your first living room…what did you have in it? What did you desperately need? What did you think you needed but then didn't use? Let us know.